This weekend, after a busy Saturday at the shop, I arrived home to Glitter and Glue, the memoir by Kelly Corrigan I had mailed off to my friends for our first ever long-distance book club selection.
We had decided, the four of us, that with three different time zones and four varying schedules, a book club via Skype just wasn't going to work. But with all of us adjusting to new towns and new friendships, something familiar and comfortable still seemed important. We had met in book club, and continuing those meetings -- in some form or fashion -- felt like the answer.
Enter The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Club, an idea so ludicrous and idealistic, I'm lucky my friends even put up with it.
I had read Corrigan's Glitter and Glue in just a few hours; flew through it as I do most memoirs, touched by her memories of her mother, in awe of the the way the mother-daughter relationship can seem so familiar across continents and generations. I had read the book and immediately thought of my friends, and I began to do what I have been doing for the past year: I figured I'd stick it in the mail and ship it off to one of them, to read at their convenience.
But, in a fit of Leslie Knope-inspired genius, it hit me: This could be a thing. A Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-inspired thing.
The rules? (Because of course.)
- Read the book in four to six weeks' time, then promptly mail to the next party.
- Record your thoughts in the front or back of the book; underline favorite passages; dogear pages; treat the book like it's your own.
- Whoever starts the book first ends up with the book.
- A new book should start its rotation when one book ends -- or whenever you find a book you just have to share.
- Have fun! Reading among friends -- even long-distance -- is one of life's best gifts.
Like every good, overachieving friend, I printed the rules on the front page of Corrigan's book, packed it in a box, and shipped it out to Colorado. A month later, my friend sent it to Missouri, then sent me back book to begin a rotation. My friend in Missouri kept the book for a month, then sent it on to Illinois. Other books began making their way, with little rhyme or reason, across the country.
And this weekend, after four months of travel, the very first book found its way back to me, in wonderful shape, but filled with little notations and markings left by each one of my friends.
I sat on my front porch and sifted through them all, glancing to see what lines had made my friends laugh, or cry, or think, or shake their heads. I had no idea how touched I'd be by all their ideas, their unique handwriting mixed in among the pages. (No one hand writes anything anymore, and after turning the pages of our book club book, I can't help but wonder why? There is ever so much more meaning in the things we hand write than in the things we type.)
The book had become a treasure in its four month journey, and soon I'll nestle it tightly on one of my overflowing shelves, proof -- yet again -- that one can never really have too many books.